Loose Cannon: Issue #46

Fri, November 30th, 2001 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

THE OLD MAN AND THE PREVIEWS

[Ernest Hemingway]
Larry's man, Ernie Hemingway
There was a time... a time, well, yonder. Thataway. Back there.

A time when the calendar fell between November and December. A time not

too cold, back there, back east where we lived, and we lived like men.

Men wearing flannel shirts rolled up past the elbows and untied

Timberlands, sure, cold men, hungry men, but honest still and men

nonetheless.

And back then it was easy to get liquor because a good bottle of Kountry

Kwencher only cost a dollar ninety-eight and we could often find two

bucks in change in the cushions of the leopard skin-patterned couch that

was bequeathed us and it was a short walk to the package store, a short

walk when drunk even or hungover from the night before because we were

men and the drinking age was but eighteen.

And Kountry Kwencher is a dollar ninety-eight even now, many years

later, which I often note ruefully but not without a small amount of

nostalgia for that rose-colored liquid that tastes so soothingly, I

remember well, so soothingly of apples and faintly of jasmine and

stronger still of unleaded gasoline, often I note as I trundle along the

aisle vainly searching for Ranch-flavored Wheat Thins and unchipped

bottles of good Islay Dew.

But back then we would wait until a brisk autumn day would turn to

bitter night and a threatened rainstorm would turn to snow and we would

drink to warm ourselves and go out into the storm and look for trouble,

not to get in but to help out, trouble of the automotive kind. The kind

where a car's tires happy, once, to grip the road and the asphalt, and

the stones with the white-knuckled grip of gravity once let slip and to

slide into tree or street sign or embankment, content to slide off

shoulder's gentle curve and wait, wait, perhaps one tire spinning idly,

beckoningly, morosely in the air, wait for us, us unshaven, unkempt,

largely untutored louts who stopped going to class once it started to

snow and the one hundred and ninety-eight pennies were found and roamed

the streets carrying our lengths of rope and flashlights and bottles of

Boone's Farm looking to right a Detroit wrong.

And thus we did once, back then, back when Reagan, addled, stooped

Reagan ran on and on amidst even those Contra-indications warning us

all, heralding in fact for those who could pay attention but not us, not

us, watching as we did the L.A. Law and the MTV but not the CNN

that we came upon a carload of girls, what luck! a carload of

girls with hazards on and blinking, winking into the night waiting

to be rescued but perhaps by none such as we but hardy men we were and

earnest and rough-hewn yes but charming in the way a squad of men are

when it's cold outside and your car's in a ditch and they have by now a

half-empty bottle of Kountry Kwencher. Make friends we did, lifting the

car and scooping dirt for traction and the rocking, rocking back and

forth to free the car and right the good steel on its way, it's precious

cargo on its way, smelling as it did of baby powder and New England

sleet.

And that's how my friend Sully knocked up Joanne.

[December Previews]But that, the old man said, as he collected his purchases, is a tale

best told another day; and so he left as brusquely as he had arrived,

the only difference being of course the slight spring in his step that

the monthly arrival of Previews provided him, as well as the

light blue bag full of comics, lightest sky blue, the color of promises

kept within, of publication schedules adhered to and of the lure of

comics to come.

Yes, the old man thought, as he hung up his coat, the coat his wife had

bought him for one of his many birthdays past; the coat that always

faintly smelled of gardenias from the vase in the hall, rugged, a coat

that had a well-lived life, a coat that he'd spent more time in than in

their quaint house by the sea.

Yes, he thought again, as he pulled out the copy of Previews from

the sack, there are those who hold this catalog, noble catalog with its

listings and its essays and, yes, even its garish ads, those who hold

this catalog in contempt, or worse, disdain. For doing its job rather

too well, bravely, stoutly arranging the month's offerings in row upon

headstrong row, alphabetically by publisher.

And this month, this week, this day, the very hour, he held his catalog

in his hands as he sat down with his pepperoni and his cheese and his

bottle of Red Stripe, amber Red Stripe to gaze upon the contents of the

catalog within. He shook his head, sadly, not with the contempt or

disdain that others have, but rather wearily, ruefully, really, that

this sort of thing was necessary; in a perfect world, a world that is so

very close to perfect, with his wife and his spacesuits and his house by

the sea, the world would shine just ever so much more brightly if he

could go into a comic store and just browse the racks and have there be

a deep stock of all the books he wanted to buy.

But this is not to be and the Previews is necessary and so he

faithfully preorders each month. It's not so bad he thinks as he turns

the pages past the digitally-created cheesecake shots and the statues

and the Gene Roddenberry action figures and the lunchboxes and the

maquettes and the boobs and the guns and the mutants until he gets to

the good stuff. After all, that's the stuff that will be on the

racks, although it is a rare thing for him to want to get that stuff as

he is a reader of books, not a collector of the statues and the Gene

Roddenberry action figures and the lunchboxes and the maquettes and the

boobs and the guns and the mutants. He is all about the comics and the

real comics are past all that other stuff.

This month is as the past few and he finds he is only getting the trade

paperbacks and the original graphic novels. As he gets older, he finds

the comic books are eminently more satisfying with a discrete beginning

and a middle and an end and as such he will be getting Mike Allred's

fourth volume of The Atomics, (DEC012083) as well as the

collected Colonia (DEC012101). He takes a black Sharpie, his

faithful Sharpie, the one that smells of licorice and dirt, and makes

thick black marks across the alternate gold foil number zeroes and the

royal blue covers and the nude cheerleader covers and the bleached art

covers as he goes along, for they offend his cranky albeit delicate

sense of aesthetics.

He gets a Through the Habitrails (DEC012261) for his

brother-in-law, who will enjoy the surreality of the corporate drone in

an ever-changing landscape of cubicles and man-sized hamster cages. This

may be the tenth or fifteenth copy he's bought, but this one speaks to

many of his friends, his friends, dear friends, who, unlike him, who

have to leave their homes by the sea and commute across the water to

jobs within the city.

He laughs, briefly, to see an advertisement for Super Dooper Groovy

Space Chicks #0 (DEC012400). laughs his hot fudge sundae laugh

because he has to admire the cheek of the title and of the art and of

the ad copy which loudly proclaims that the book will ship in full

color, monthly, and yet the ad is in black-and-white as is the zero

issue itself. He may buy it anyway, just to put cash in the hands of

folks who are so silly. "Don't Miss This One Baby" the copy reads,

without punctuation, hallowed, over-used and strict punctuation,

missing.

He never liked punctuation that much, anyway.

Email about this column should be sent to larry@comicbookresources.com.

Of course, most answers to simple questions you may have about me or my company can be gleaned from http://www.ait-planetlar.com.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at the Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else. This week, hop over and tell me what the old man missed. Personally, I think he's crackers for not mentioning the Memories of Outer Space hardcover from Humanoids (DEC012435), or the Alison Dare trade paperback (DEC012521), but what're ya gonna do? The guy talks about himself in second and third person rather too often for my taste.

Loose Cannon Home | Loose Cannon Archives

 
Loose Cannon

Send This Article to a Friend

Separate multiple email address with commas.

You must state your name.

You must enter your email address.